Conquering Limitations

Chakravaka bird“Not caring for their bodies, in staring at the beautiful picture it is like the enemy of the blinking of the eye has run away. Their eyes were like the chakravaka bird in staring at Rama’s beautiful form; they enjoyed the happiness that comes from having a good ruler.” (Janaki Mangala, Chand 17.1)

nahiṃ tana sambhārahiṃ chabi nihārahiṃ nimiṣa ripu janu ranu jae |
cakravai locala rāma rūpa surāja sukha bhāgī bhae ||

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“I have this important test tomorrow. I’ve been so busy with my other classes and also my regular responsibilities that I haven’t had time to study. And then today I was occupied with so many other things throughout the day. I have no other option: I need to pull an all-nighter. It’s going to be tough particularly because I will be so tired. I know I’m fighting a losing battle, but if I have enough coffee and if I find the right setting, I’ll be able to stay up all night.”

“My body says to stop, but my mind says to keep going. This isn’t fair. Why do I get so tired all the time? Why does my body not allow me to have fun? It’s not right. I need to work out some more. I need to keep going. My goal is to lose weight. If I just sleep because I’m so tired, that won’t help me much. Afterwards, I get really hungry too. How am I supposed to stop eating when my body starts giving me pain in the stomach?”

Tired from studyingEating and sleeping are two aspects basic to an existence. They are present in both the animals and humans alike. Who can conquer over them? They are limitations imposed on the body. No matter the objective we may have, we eventually have to eat and sleep. The student cramming for the exam can try to delay that sleep through artificial means, but eventually their fatigue will catch up with them. The person trying to lose weight may successfully avoid food for a long time, but eventually they will have to eat. They will also be forced to take rest instead of exercise.

Along with the larger limitations like eating and sleeping, there are smaller ones as well. One of them is blinking. It is an involuntary movement of the eyelids. Though we can control blinking if we try, that control only lasts for a short while. This is because we don’t have to think about blinking. It happens on its own. It’s sort of like the breathing with the lungs or the beating of the heart. We don’t have to tell ourselves to breathe. It just happens.

These things are good for us. If we don’t blink for too long, the eyes can get dry. This is a common symptom for people who wear contact lenses. Unlike glasses, contacts rest directly on the eyeballs. Therefore when you blink, the reaction is different. It is much easier for the eye to get dry while wearing contact lenses. When the contacts are taken out, the eyes get a chance to catch up, but with prolonged use one can find a situation called “dry eye,” which affects vision.

Dry eye treatmentNevertheless, even with contacts the blinking still occurs. As it is an involuntary movement, when we hear that someone has conquered over blinking through looking at something, we should know that the something is really special. This was the case a long time ago at a marriage ceremony. The people looking at the something were so mesmerized that they stopped blinking for a while. This helped them enjoy the moment; it allowed them to soak up the beauty.

Of course that beauty can only be found in the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He is not a mean person who tells people to do this and that. He is not vengeful against those who ignore Him. The pain from turning away from Him is automatic; sort of like when the hand is put into a fire. The hand is not meant to touch fire. This is just the way things are. If you put your hand in fire, the fire is not to blame and neither is God.

In the same way, when there is residence in a land that sees only death as the culmination to everything, God is not to blame. The residence is a choice, though the residents may not remember having made that choice. Memory alone doesn’t determine fact. If I do something stupid and I don’t remember being told not to do it, the stupid thing will still hurt me. Someone else may have told me not to do that a long time ago, and if I forgot their sound words of advice, it is my fault, not theirs.

Residence in the material land is caused by ignoring God. To love Him is the constitutional position of the spirit soul. To not love Him is to create a conditional existence. The condition is forgetfulness, and the result is residence in a land that is temporary, where no existence is permanent. If nothing is permanent, it means nothing can live forever. If nothing lives forever, it means everything dies. If everything dies, some will not be so happy from time to time; as they are guaranteed to lose whatever they have. Thus the ultimate result is only misery.

In God’s company, there is no misery. Just the opposite occurs, in fact. The eyes are so happy in looking at God that they are able to conquer over blinking. The victors in this instance were women at a marriage ceremony. They were well-wishers to both bride and groom. The bride was Sita Devi, the daughter of King Janaka. The groom was Shri Ramachandra, the sun of the solar race, or the dynasty of kings that started with the sun-god. Shri Ramachandra is also the Supreme Lord in His incarnation as a warrior prince.

Sita and RamaIn this verse from the Janaki Mangala we are again told how the ladies in the marriage ceremony cast aside concern for their bodies. If we are out of a job or feeling down on our luck, we may not shower on a given day. For women to do this is more rare, as they generally pay more attention to physical appearance. Here the concern was given up due to intense transcendental pleasure. They were so happy to see Rama that they didn’t worry about anything else.

In staring at the beautiful picture that was the handsome groom, the enemy known as blinking ran away. It was an enemy in this instance because it would periodically get in the way of the enjoyment of the ladies. It is also said that the eyes of the ladies behaved like chakravaka birds. These birds come to life in the morning, when the sun rises. The analogy is appropriate because Shri Rama is often compared to the sun. Additionally, His family ancestry is tied to the sun-god.

The women felt the enjoyment that comes from having a good ruler, or suraja. If you have a good ruler, you are protected. You know that things will be alright. Everyone is looking for such a ruler, but none can compare to God Himself. The citizens want protection; they want to feel safe. They want to know that economics will be accounted for, that they will have enough to eat and a place to live. They want to know that foreign enemies will be dealt with. If the ruler can take care of such things, the citizens will be happy.

Rama was indeed like the sun, as He dispelled the darkness of doubt that hovered above the marriage ceremony in Janakpur. As Sita’s husband was to be determined by a contest of strength, there was no telling who would marry her, if anyone. Rama arrived with His younger brother Lakshmana and the sage Vishvamitra and won the contest, bringing His good protection to all the joyful party.

In Closing:

Without even having to think,

To protect eyes lids do blink.


From perfect vision take away,

Eyes not perpetually on it to stay.


Blinking enemy of women did run,

When looking at Raghu dynasty’s sun.


Like chakravaka birds were their eyes,

With supreme delight in sun’s rise.

Categories: janaki mangala

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